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Pre-Workshop Activity. Please fill out the ‘Marine Aquarium Shopping Spree’ questionnaire. Keep this questionnaire to refer to at the end of the workshop.

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Pre-Workshop Activity

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Pre workshop activity

Pre-Workshop Activity

  • Please fill out the ‘Marine Aquarium Shopping Spree’ questionnaire. Keep this questionnaire to refer to at the end of the workshop.

    You have just won a free shopping spree from your local pet store. You have 10 minutes to purchase items for a new marine aquarium. What will you buy?


Systems engineering concepts and the design of a household marine aquarium

Systems Engineering Concepts and the Design of a Household Marine Aquarium

Alice Squires: [email protected]

Stevens Institute of Technology,

School of Systems and Enterprises


Workshop agenda

Workshop Agenda

  • Attendees:

    • Pick up lesson plans and supplemental activity sheets.

    • Complete roster with e-mail to request soft copies of material.

    • ASEE will make presentations available online.

  • Schedule of Activities:

    • 10 minutes: Set-up and Intros: Shopping Spree

    • 15 minutes: Lesson One: The System Life Cycle

    • 15 minutes: Lesson Two: Stakeholders & Requirements

    • 20 minutes: Lesson Three: Choosing Your First Aquarium

    • 15 minutes: Wrap-up: Review of overall concepts, Q&A


Workshop objectives

Workshop Objectives

By the end of the workshop, participants will be provided with information describing how:

  • Stakeholder requirements that span the system life cycle should be considered early in the systems engineering process.

  • The first four steps of the systems engineering process guide us through the selection of our system concept.

  • Using the system engineering process to design a system will save both time and money over the long run.


Definitions used

Definitions Used

  • System: A system is a set of independent yet interrelated components working together to accomplish a common purpose.

  • Stakeholder: Stakeholders are those individuals involved in the design or use of the system.

  • Systems Engineering: Systems engineering is the process that we use to transform a need or opportunity into an operational system that meets the stakeholder requirements over the life of the system.

  • System Life Cycle: The phases that a system goes through from conception until retirement.

  • Pugh Matrix: A table used to compare system concepts to stakeholder requirements.


Lesson one the system life cycle

Lesson One: The System Life Cycle


Lesson one objectives

Lesson One Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Explain what a system is and give examples.

  • Identify the phases of a system life cycle.

  • Provide a definition for systems engineering.

  • List the systems engineering steps that support exploring the system concept.


What is a system

What is a System?

  • A system is a set of independent yet interrelated components working together to accomplish a common purpose.

  • The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

  • Examples: Our Marine Aquarium

    • In Nature: ant colony, nervous system, coral reef

    • Man-made: car, satellite, computer, city


The system life cycle

The System Life Cycle


What is systems engineering

What is Systems Engineering?

  • Systems engineering is the process that we use to transform a need or opportunity into an operational system that meets the stakeholder requirements over the life of the system.

  • The systems engineering process starts with the first step in the system life cycle, exploring system concepts.

  • Stakeholders are those individuals involved in the design or use of the system.

  • A successful system meets the needs of the stakeholders.


Systems engineering process for explore system concepts

Systems Engineering Process for Explore System Concepts

Identify a Need or Opportunity

Identify Stakeholders

Gather Requirements

Define, Evaluate and Select System Concept


Systems engineering process for explore system concepts1

Systems Engineering Process for Explore System Concepts

Identify a Need or Opportunity

Example: Household Marine Aquarium

Identify Stakeholders

Gather Requirements

Define, Evaluate and Select System Concept


Systems engineering process for explore system concepts2

Systems Engineering Process for Explore System Concepts

Identify a Need or Opportunity

Example: Household Marine Aquarium

Those involved in the success of our aquarium

Identify Stakeholders

From stakeholders and aquarium experts across all system life cycle phases

Gather Requirements

Define, Evaluate and Select System Concept


Lesson one objectives1

Lesson One Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Explain what a system is and give examples.

  • Identify the phases of a system life cycle.

  • Provide a definition for systems engineering.

  • List the systems engineering steps that support exploring the system concept.


Lesson two identifying stakeholders and gathering requirements

Lesson Two: Identifying Stakeholders and Gathering Requirements


Lesson two objectives

Lesson Two Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Explain what a stakeholder is.

  • List examples of stakeholders.

  • Describe a general process for collecting stakeholder requirements.

  • Discuss the importance of research in the design of the system.


What is a stakeholder

What is a Stakeholder?

  • Stakeholders are those individuals involved in the design or use of the system.

  • Here are some questions you can ask to determine who your stakeholders are:

    • Who is paying for the aquarium?

    • Who is the aquarium for?

    • Who will maintain the aquarium?

    • Who provides parts for the aquarium?

    • Who provides expert information about the aquarium?

    • Who is designing the aquarium?

    • Who establishes rules or guidelines for the aquarium?

    • Who will use or view the aquarium?

  • Don’t forget, you are a stakeholder too!


Stakeholder requirements

Stakeholder Requirements

  • Challenges:

    • Gathering a complete set of requirements

    • Missing or late requirements may force a redesign

  • Help stakeholders visualize aquarium

    • Share information and ideas

    • Show sample pictures of aquariums

  • Collect requirements through interviews

    • Prepare a set of starter questions

    • Listen to and write down requirements!


Requirements survey

Requirements Survey

  • Stakeholder requirements are typically grouped into categories, examples include:

    • Cost

    • Time or Schedule

    • Environmental Impact

    • Aesthetics (looks)

    • Performance

    • Location

    • Maintenance / Sustaining Operation


Ask the expert

Ask the Expert

  • A Successful Aquarium Requires:

    • Compatible fish and inhabitants

    • One environment

      • Certain amount of light and intensity

      • Specific level of Salinity (salt level)

      • Consistent Temperature Range

      • Livable Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate levels

  • Learn about your aquarium

    • Talk to experts

    • Research: school, library, Internet


Marine aquarium facts

Marine Aquarium Facts

  • The compatibility of the marine life in the aquarium is the single most important consideration – since there is only one environment.

  • Water quality is the most important factor for keeping the aquarium inhabitants alive.

    • Aquariums must initially cycle through high levels of:

      • First Ammonia

      • Then Nitrite

      • And finally, nitrate

        This is called ‘cycling’ the aquarium.

  • Salt water friendly equals salt water safe!


More marine aquarium facts

More Marine Aquarium Facts

  • The amount of fish in the water has a direct effect on the water quality.

    • Freshwater: 1 inch (length) of fish per gallon of freshwater

    • Fish-only Marine: 1 inch of fish per three gallons of salt water

    • Mixed (corals with some fish): 1 inch of fish per five gallons of salt water

  • The amount of natural lighting, weight bearing capacity and external temperature fluctuation are important considerations when choosing a location for the aquarium.

    • To calculate weight: 8.5 pounds per gallon of sea water, plus additional weight of tank, results in the rule of thumb of 10 pounds per gallon of water.


Activity gathering requirements

Activity:Gathering Requirements

  • Form into groups.

  • Each group member assumes a particular role in the household – mom, dad, brother, sister, grandparent, etc…

  • Take turns interviewing each other to gather the stakeholder requirements.

  • Focus on the ‘top’ 3 requirements per person.

  • Gather at least 5 ‘top’ requirements, including your own requirements.


Lesson two objectives1

Lesson Two Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Explain what a stakeholder is.

  • List examples of stakeholders.

  • Describe a general process for collecting stakeholder requirements.

  • Discuss the importance of research in the design of the system.


Lesson three choosing your first aquarium

Lesson Three: Choosing Your First Aquarium


Lesson three objectives

Lesson Three Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Explain what a Pugh matrix is and how it can be used.

  • Complete the concept selection process using the Pugh matrix.

  • Discuss the importance of researching and gathering stakeholder requirements early in the system life cycle.

  • Explain how the first four steps of the systems engineering process successfully guide us through the selection of our system concept.


The pugh matrix

The Pugh Matrix

  • We will use a Pugh matrix to guide the aquarium selection process.

    • The Pugh matrix will be used to organize information to make an informed decision.

    • The Pugh matrix is used very early in the concept selection process.

      • To choose from alternatives or concepts.

      • Not much detail yet known or available.

    • The concepts being evaluated are separated from the requirements used to select them.

      • Concepts are list across the top row.

      • Requirements are listed down the left column.


Pugh matrix

Pugh Matrix

Use ‘+’ for better than requirement Use ‘S’ for meets the requirement Use ‘-’ for does not meet the requirement


Populating the pugh matrix

Populating the Pugh Matrix

  • List concepts across the top row of a table.

  • List the requirements down the left hand side of a table.

  • Populate the table. Label each concept as follows for each requirement:

    • ‘+’ means that the concept more than meets the requirement (is better than what is required).

    • ‘S’ means that the concept meets the requirement.

    • ‘-’ means that the concept does not meet the requirement.

  • Count the number of ‘+’, ‘S’, and ‘-’ for each concept and write the sums in the bottom three rows of the table.


Selecting your concept

Selecting your Concept

  • Use the sums to guide the process.

    • Let the totals for each concept guide decisions, do not allow totals to make the decision for you.

    • For example, just because one concept has the most ‘+’s does not mean that is the concept to select.

    • You are the best judge of the right concept to select. The table simply offers a method for viewing and summarizing the information.

    • Allow the matrix to ‘inform’ but not to ‘determine’ the answer.


Example selecting a pet

Example: Selecting a Pet

Use ‘+’ for better than requirement Use ‘S’ for meets the requirement Use ‘-’ for does not meet the requirement


Selecting a pet

Selecting a Pet

  • Using the Pugh Matrix as a guide to select a pet:

    • Michael may choose the dog, as a dog offers the best match to his requirements and he will make sure not to leave the dog home alone for long periods of time.

    • Alice may choose the fish as she has to be able to leave her pet home alone for long periods of time and most of all she wants something she will enjoy watching.

    • Justin may choose the cat because he only wants some companionship, not too much, and he wants the flexibility to take his pet with him or leave the pet at home.


Using the pugh matrix to select the first aquarium type

Using the Pugh Matrix to Select the First Aquarium Type

  • We will use the Pugh matrix to select an aquarium based on the available requirements.

  • The aquarium choices for this activity will be:

    • Marine Fish-Only

    • Marine Mini-Reef/Corals

    • Marine Mixed (Fish and Corals)

    • Freshwater


Concept one marine fish only

Concept One: Marine Fish Only

  • Examples include:

    • A community of compatible marine fish

      • Similar environmental needs

      • They all get along!

    • A single specimen that is better kept alone.

      • Large

      • Aggressive or predatory

  • Can contain:

    • Benign crustaceans (like shrimp or crabs)

    • Benign Mollusks (like clams or oysters)

  • Does not have the marine ecosystem ‘look’.

    • No coral, sponges or anemones


Concept two marine mini reef corals

Concept Two: Marine Mini-reef/Corals

  • A Mini-reef/Corals aquarium may include:

    • Hard corals

    • Soft corals

    • Sponges

    • Anemones

    • Other types of sessile invertebrates (non-moving sea creatures with no backbone)

    • Typically, no fish!

  • Requires:

    • Intense lighting

    • Better water quality

    • Is more effort to maintain than fish only or freshwater

  • Does not have the marine ecosystem ‘look’.

    • Little to no live moving sea creatures

    • Pretty, but may be considered boring


Concept three marine mixed

Concept Three: Marine Mixed

  • A mixed aquarium is a mini-reef/corals aquarium that has fish!

    • In the simplest version, fish do not feed on the coral

    • Has the look of a marine ecosystem

    • Can range from a simple to a very complex ecosystem

  • Most difficult to maintain

    • Water quality must be closely monitored

    • Many maintenance activities more often

  • The different lighting needs of the inhabitants needs to be addressed.

  • More chance of failure of the ecosystem

    • Unexplained mortality

    • Disappearing sea creatures


Concept four freshwater

Concept Four: Freshwater

  • A freshwater aquarium does not require salt water

    • The more common type of aquarium

    • Fish are more readily available

    • Equipment is more readily available

    • More choices in many areas

  • Compared to a marine aquarium, a freshwater aquarium and its inhabitants:

    • Are generally less expensive

    • Are generally easier to maintain

    • More fish per gallon of water

    • Overall the aquarium has a better chance of success

  • May not have the look that you are trying to achieve

  • May lose interest


Activity choosing your first aquarium

Activity:Choosing your First Aquarium

  • Read through the definitions for each aquarium type.

  • List your most important stakeholder requirements down the left hand side of the Pugh matrix provided. List 5 to 12 requirements.

  • Analyze each concept against each requirement and decide which rating is most appropriate, and fill that rating into the appropriate cell of the table:

    • Use ‘+’ for exceeds requirement

    • Use ‘S’ for meets the requirement

    • Use ‘-’ for does not meet the requirement

  • Sum the number for each concept in the final three rows.

  • Which concept do you choose, and why?


Pugh matrix afterward

Pugh Matrix Afterward

  • Use the same process with additional alternatives for your first aquarium.

  • The concepts or alternatives should be well defined before applying the Pugh matrix process.

  • When using the Pugh matrix you cannot choose a concept that you do not include in your analysis, so be sure to include a broad range of concepts.


Lesson three objectives1

Lesson Three Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Explain what a Pugh matrix is and how it can be used.

  • Complete the concept selection process using the Pugh matrix.

  • Discuss the importance of researching and gathering stakeholder requirements early in the system life cycle.

  • Explain how the first four steps of the systems engineering process successfully guide us through the selection of our system concept.


Workshop summary

Workshop Summary


Post workshop activity

Post Workshop Activity

  • Please fill out the ‘Marine Aquarium Shopping Spree’ questionnaire again. Then compare your answers now to those at the beginning of the workshop. What’s different? Why?

    You have just won a free shopping spree from your local pet store. You have 10 minutes to purchase items for a new marine aquarium. What will you buy?


Workshop objectives1

Workshop Objectives

By the end of the workshop, participants will be provided with information describing how:

  • Stakeholder requirements that span the system life cycle should be considered early in the systems engineering process.

  • The first four steps of the systems engineering process guide us through the selection of our system concept.

  • Using the system engineering process to design a system will save both time and money over the long run.


Wrap up

Wrap-Up

  • List three things you learned from your introduction to systems engineering. What one idea do you think you will use the most often?

  • If you could change one thing about this workshop, what would it be?

  • Do you think you will use this lesson plan in your school? Describe briefly, why or why not?


Thank you questions

Thank You!Questions?

Alice Squires: [email protected]

Stevens Institute of Technology,

School of Systems and Enterprises


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